Wal-Mart up for fourth quarter and year
Bentonnville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores reported net income for its fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, 2008, at $4.1 billion, up 4 percent from $3.9 billion from the same quarter in 2007. The company reported net sales at $106.2 billion, up 8.3 percent from $98.1 billion last year.
For the year, the company reported net income of 12.7 billion, up 12.8 percent from $11.3 billion last year. The company reported net sales for the year at $374.5 billion, up 8.5 percent from $344.9 billion last year. Non-fuel comp-store sales in the United States were up 1.7 percent for the three months, and up 1.4 percent for the full year.
“For the fourth quarter, we topped $100 billion in sales, the first time in history that any retailer has reached this milestone in a single quarter,” said Lee Scott, Wal-Mart Stores president and CEO. “We had a very strong underlying operating performance, exceeding our expectations for the quarter. In addition to another year of record sales and earnings, we also delivered a record return to our shareholders this year through more than $11 billion in share repurchase and dividends.”
Scott attributed the company’s strong results on Wal-Mart’s price leadership and improved customer service, especially in the United States.
“The price leadership strategy we put in place at the beginning of the year was exactly the right strategy for our customers around the world in a tough economic environment,” Scott said. “The combination of price leadership and improved customer service made the difference in the fourth quarter for our U.S. operations,” he said.
Builders’ Show begins in Orlando
Orlando, Fla. The International Builders’ Show kicked off in earnest Wednesday morning here at the Orange County Convention Center. Among the hot topics on the show floor and in the myriad seminar rooms: the economy and the environment, with a little politics in the mix.
The official opening ceremony keynote brought out political consultants Mary Matalin and James Carville, a married couple on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Matalin earned applause when she told the crowd that she was proud of the National Association of Home Builders for its decision announced Tuesday to freeze all contributions to federal congressional candidates through its BUILD-PAC political action committee. The action was based on the belief that Congress and the Bush administration have not done enough in the past six months to address the housing sector, and the freeze will remain in effect until further notice.
Several thousand builders crammed into the massive auditorium for the opening ceremony, which also featured a musical review of Orlando attractions, starring Florence Henderson (better known as Carol Brady from “The Brady Bunch”).
Apanel of economists participated in one of the more well-attended educational seminars, in which NAHB chief economist David Seiders described a relatively optimistic forecast. In his picture, the housing market will see an upturn either in late 2008 or early 2009. Further, the American economy as a whole will avoid recession, partly as a result of the economic stimulus plan.
Of course, many stats presented were bleak. One chart showed building permits in all 50 states — every single state showed some degree of decline compared to 2005. “The wildcard in 2008 is the number of houses in foreclosure,” said Seiders. “It’s very difficult to estimate.”
David Berson, senior vp and chief economist of risk management firm PMI Group, was the most pessimistic of the panelists and said he believed the economy already was in a recession.
Despite the general market conditions, attendance was expected by organizers to reach about 100,000 people, a figure similar to that of last year’s event. Some attendees, however, said they observed a noticeable decline in traffic.
On the show floor, green products and green building practices were a common theme. Thursday at the show has been declared “Green Day,” during which the NAHB will officially launch its Certified Green Professional designation for home builders and remodelers.
Frost King acquires Marvin Manufacturing
Frost King (Thermwell Products) has acquired the adjustable window screen and fan lines and production facilities from Urbana, Ohio-based W. B. Marvin Manufacturing Co.
Marvin, founded in 1915, introduced the metal rail adjustable screen in 1936 and the screen window fan in 1945, but supply problems in its heater division forced it to close in 2007.
Thermwell purchased the company’s assets in January 2008. It has re-opened the Urbana factory and rehired employees who had been laid off.
Mel Gerstein, a principal of Thermwell who engineered the purchase, said he plans to continue to manufacture Marvin products in Urbana and market and distribute them in conjunction with Thermwell’s Frost King products.
In addition to Frost King, Thermwell’s family includes Mortite, Seal-Rite automotive weatherstrip products, Regent, Lever, Filmco Industries and Kraver.
Thermwell has offices and factories in Mahwah, N.J., and Sparks, Nev., with production and distribution facilities throughout the country.